From CU-Boulder News Release May 2, 2002
A University of Colorado Boulder law professor known for championing American Indian and western environmental legal issues has received the university's largest single honor for teaching and research, the Hazel Barnes Prize.
Charles Wilkinson, 60, will receive the prize, which carries a $20,000 award, at CU-Boulder's summer graduation ceremony where he will deliver the commencement address.
Since joining the CU law faculty in 1987, Wilkinson has been recognized by the university through his naming as the Moses Lasky Professor of Law. He also is one of only 20 Distinguished Professors on the CU-Boulder campus.
Wilkinson said he was "bowled over" to learn that he won the Hazel Barnes Prize. "As someone who knows Hazel Barnes, I was reminded ever more how teaching is a career-long process of learning, change and hopefully, improvement. So this has inspired me to work on my teaching and try some new things."
Wilkinson's legal teaching is interdisciplinary, broad-gauged and, as his students often comment, inspiring. He teaches an advanced natural resources seminar that has examined issues in the Rio Grande watershed, the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem and the Colorado Plateau.
As CU-Boulder Law Dean Hal Bruff explains, "During spring break, students take a field trip to the area and meet with people - ranging from governors and attorney generals to ranchers, miners and Indian religious practitioners - who are involved in natural resources issues. This course is unlike any taught in American law schools," Bruff said.
In addition to winning teaching awards at the CU-Boulder, Oregon and Michigan law schools, Wilkinson has authored 12 books and a long list of articles and essays on law, history and society in the American West. His writings on federal public land law and Indian law are considered the standard legal texts on those subjects. Outside Magazine called Wilkinson "the West's leading authority on natural resources law."
He won the 2000 Colorado Book Award for his volume about the historical, legal and social context of Indian fishing rights in the Pacific Northwest. In 1992, his work "The Eagle Bird" was praised by The New York Times as "a vigorous study of [how] the development of the West has both disrupted many delicate environments and profoundly reshaped the societies that emerged on the frontier."
Wilkinson served as special counsel for the drafting of the 1996 Presidential Proclamation establishing the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. He also acted as facilitator in negotiations between the National Park Service and the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe concerning a tribal land base in Death Valley National Park. In 2000, Congress ratified the resulting agreement.
Before beginning his teaching and research career, Wilkinson graduated from Stanford Law School in 1966 and practiced with private firms in Phoenix, San Francisco and in Boulder with the Native American Rights Fund. He has served on the boards of The Wilderness Society, Northern Lights Institute, The Western Environmental Law Center and is the co-founder of CU's Center of the American West.
He is currently board chair of the Grand Canyon Trust and is serving as mediator in negotiations between the City of Seattle and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe concerning fishing access and land use.
The Hazel Barnes Prize was established at CU-Boulder in 1991 to recognize the enriching relationship between teaching and research. The $20,000 award is the largest single faculty prize funded by the university, and is named in honor of philosophy Professor Emerita Hazel Barnes. Noted for her interpretations of the works of French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, Barnes taught at CU-Boulder from 1943-1986.